Houston Is Hot and Sticky

HOUSTON IS HOT AND STICKY Fried Egg on Sidewalk, HoustonHe’s getting ready to skip town, but writer Aboubacar Ndiaye did take the time to sit down at a coffee shop, swat away a few mosquitoes, and compose a maybe-not-quite-goodbye note to this city of accessible treasures: “The stickiness of Houston, living in the city for longer than planned, is borne out of this ease. Unlike New York or D.C. or San Francisco, Houston is not a layover city, a place to play out one’s youth and eventually settle into more comfortable circumstances. People who are here came for college or for jobs or to escape their small towns. They came to Houston to stay. Some of the young who grew up here grumble about moving to Austin, our popular sibling with its great music and coolness oozing out of its hippie streets, or to some other supposedly better city. Some of them left, to try their lucks in New York and Los Angeles and Chicago, but a lot came back, finding that while Houston does not have the cultural friction of those glittering cities, it has friends and money and time and hope. Those who come back, especially those with artistic inclinations, are embraced with open hearts and fatted tacos, because those of us who live here are aware of this inescapable truth: we’ve got it pretty good here, not great, but good. Instead of throwing ourselves face first into the whetstones of New York and L.A., a lot of us stay in Houston and make enough working at desk jobs or part-time to have time for artistic endeavors. Half the baristas and bartenders in Houston are artists or designers or musicians or writers, all of them living lives of mediocre content, rising at the most to local celebrity and local adoration. I sometimes, half-seriously, call Houston the Land of the Lotus Eaters, full of people who are continually high from a cocktail of affluence, affability, and comfort.” [The Billfold] Photo: Lori Greig [license]

21 Comment

  • Thank you Swamplot! I would have never found such a beautiful piece of writing about the city I call home and love…well, most of the time. “Pretty good here?” Yes, it is. I am the small towner who landed here for a job. I spent my first few years adjusting to being a small fish in a huge pond, sweating, getting lost, and planning my escape. Thirty one years later, I’m more of a Houston Ambassador. Thank you Houston for many things, but for opening my mind and heart to other people and cultures above all else. Follow the link to the full article and savor every delicious word.

  • Exactly. That is Houston summed up in a well written article… Houston is actually a beacon to a LOT of people. So fricking quit ragging on our Shiny City by the Gulf !!! If you naysayers don’t like Houston, do us all a favor and move the phuck away !!! As I listen to ” I’m Not Gay ” by Revolting Cocks !!!!!!

  • From the link:

    “Some of this is might sound cloying, but when I think of Houston, I don’t see the majesty of the Williams Tower, or the winding cobblestone streets of Hyde Park, or the Victorian mansions along Heights Boulevard.”

    Winding cobblestone streets of Hyde Park?…???….SAY WHAT??? I lived in (or just across Montrose Blvd from) Hyde Park for over 20 years. What the Hell is he talking about? I can think of a couple of partially brick paved streets named after states near Cherryhurst but they don’t wind, wend or even wiggle.

  • Good stuff. I have moved away from Houston three times since my birth here and recently returned for my fourth sojourn. I’ve finally admitted that I LIKE Houston and have quit apologizing for its sprawl and humidity and traffic and embraced the really quite pleasant life one can live here. I love the unexpected diversity in our Energy Corridor neighborhood, the easy access to Terry Hershey park, the ability to walk to local restaurants or to hop in the car for multiple entertainment options. Since we screened in the back patio and installed a fan, even the summer heat and bugs are no big thing. Also, motto option: “Houston, You Can Get There From Here”.

  • Bill, the streets don’t wind but there are fully intact brick streets that date to before 1930. Michigan and Maryland west of Commonwealth are two.

  • I don’t know any more.
    For most of my life in Houston I would say that was true.
    Born and raised here but dreaming of Colorado or California, to move there and be disappointed or disenchanted and always moving back to Houston because there was always a haven, a job, an affordable place to live, and a chance to have kind of a “life”, maybe not the glamourous life I dreamed of, but at least something that resembeled one.
    I tried for so many years to get out of this town, and finally grew to love it and appreciate it.
    Not so much any more.
    Low paying jobs and high rent.
    Overnight neighborhoods went from “can’t live there you will get killed” to “can’t live there you can’t afford it” and nothing in between!
    Is it still really easier here than Los Angeles or Porland or Seattle?
    I don’t know any more.

  • i’m not buying it. Houston is indeed one of the best cities around for middle class folks, but it all comes down to time management and space. Houston provides a convenient lifestyle that affords families much more time and space than they could claim in the hustle and bustle of larger cities like SF, LA, or NYC. however, let’s not sit back and pride ourselves as if this doesn’t pose serious drawbacks that we casually buy into and accept, whether absent-mindedly or begrudgingly
    That same abundance of space and time means our city still isn’t cultured enough to be a mecca for the foreign investors and rich elite seeking out stability in world class cities with lots of amenities, nor is it hopsitable for those growing up in low income communities where transportation and education costs all but ensure a lifetime of low-wage labor (for reals, just look at the statistics if you don’t believe me).
    but hey, i’m a glass half empty kind of guy and won’t be happy until more strides have been taken to make Houston even more hospitable to all and everyone. we may be alright, but we’re certainly not there yet and it remains to be seen what life would be like in this city in a free market that accurately priced energy, pollution and consumption. if your middle class, then yes, come to houston and bask in the glow. if you’re on the lower end of the economic specturm, you should be fighting to get out and place your family in a better environment with greater probabilities for success.

  • No Houston still sux

  • I’ve actually lived in many other places that were superior to Houston. More beautiful geographically, better quality of life, better weather – the list goes on and on. This city is UGLY and DIRTY and HOT and MOSQUITO INFESTED. Houston, we can do SOOOO much better than this!

  • ^ To you three, FYHA.

  • The Houston that this guy is writing about is quickly disappearing. It almost seems the article was written 5 years ago and not yesterday.

    I’ve been here 35 years and call Houston home. However, unchecked, free-for-all development inside the Loop and its repercussions are making me start to dislike what Houston is becoming. Destroying perfectly fine homes and neighborhoods with questionable development that has major impacts on traffic, green space and quality of life will come home to roost in a major fashion…and soon. Just wait until all of these apartment buildings are finished! It’s like we have this huge blind spot when it comes to the consequences of development. Houston keeps building, building, building while the transportation infrastructure is not keeping pace. Creating a denser urban core while failing to address the traffic/mobility situation is a recipe for failure.

  • You know, one thing that’s so wonderful about Houston and Texas and the U.S.A., no one is keeping anyone here by force. If you don’t like Houston, you can move back to any other city, state or country you think is so superior. You will not be missed.

  • @Karma; you are correct, I can leave Houston, and plan to do so when I retire in a few years, even though I own a home and some acreage here. People who say “leave if you don’t like it” are overly defensive about any criticism of Houston, no matter how valid. I certainly won’t miss that attitude.

  • @roadchick, my comment was not meant for you.
    When I posted mine, the last one showing was from Ian. As you have no doubt noticed, there is a time delay for approval and comments are kept in abeyance until that happens. Then, they are released in the order they are approved (or this is how I envision the process, but I admit I really have no idea how the process works). My comment was actually aimed at those that think Houston sux and is inferior.

  • The Franklin Youth Hockey Association would like to thank Ian for the plug. . .

  • @roadchick
    I agree. 5 years ago the article would have been spot on.
    Today…not so much.
    Ditto to everything else. This uncontrolled growth and high density inside the loop is a recipe for disaster. I just hope to get out before it happens.

  • @Karma, no worries. As I’ve learned during my 35 years in zoning-free Houston, developers run this town. They build whatever they want wherever they want, and don’t give a hoot about its effects on surrounding communities, residents or traffic. That’s not likely to change, so I’m outta here when I retire, even though I have deep roots here. Houston has so much squandered potential.

  • Gotta love Swamplot. Guy writes a nice piece on Houston and just like every single other post on this website, the negative comments spring forth. It’s really quite sad how full of misery and hate and all around negative energy most of the people who post on here are. It’s just pathetic. I feel sorry for you.

  • karma, sorry, but your comment is actually wrong as obviously not everyone can simply just pick up and leave as they desire without causing much more harm than good to them and their families. i just hope that reaction doesn’t carry over when trying to discuss with others what could and should be done to make this city a better community for everyone and all or we have serious problems in this town.
    as for the others, please expand on how you believe houston should be densifying itself better and expanding to meet the huge demand of new residents because i really don’t see many issues so far. i really don’t know of a single other city in the US that could still provide the same income levels and standards of living without longer and more congested commutes than what we have here in Houston. and the concern is really only for those seeking cheaper housing and accepting long commutes on the freeways as even with all the new developments in the inner city it’s still ridiculously easy to get around.

  • Houston follows the ideal of endless growth. This means that whatever culture is here gets obliterated and replaced by a steady flood of people from other places. It’s a lovely city as designed, but over time, look for it to become more like California.

  • This excerpt smacks of such pretension and privilege and general oblivious idiocy that I have no desire to read the full piece.